Global warming really couldn’t have come at a worse time for me. Although I have spent the majority of my life in the low nineties where body temperature is concerned, in the last year I have noticed a general warming trend. It still doesn’t extend to my hands or feet, and it hasn’t yet broken out into full-fledged hot flashes, but I am not comfortable.
It began in the night. Just a few nights right around the arrival of my period. I would awaken to damp sheets and a husband clinging desperately to the edge of the bed in a futile attempt to escape the heat radiating off my body.
Within months these balmy few nights became week long events and recently, I noticed that despite the definite chill of the Canadian fall, I am still barefoot in my shoes and often without a coat.
I tried to chalk it up to acclimatization. I was just becoming accustomed to the cooler climate of northern Alberta. After all this is a place where women begin wearing sandals and capris when the spring temps hit 45 degrees and often don’t put on real shoes until the first snow fall. Maybe I was just getting hardy, like the pioneers.
But if I had been a pioneer, I would have been the one the buried on the trail under an oxen skull.
No, this sudden tolerance was not due to the clever adaptation of my body. It was peri-menopause again. Another of those lovely lead up symptoms that no one warns us about unless we become convinced we are contracting a fatal illness and seek out our medical practitioners.
“My armpits ache and I have breast tenderness that is actually worse than when I was pregnant,” I whined once to my wonderful P.A. Collette.
“Yep, me too. Peri-menopause.”
“That’s an actual thing? I thought soap operas just made that up.”
And I did too. The only time I had ever heard of it was when a soap I was watching used it to explain why one of the female characters “of a certain age” had to turn to her best male friend to help her conceive because her husband’s oldest son had just been killed and he was sterile and another baby would help lift him out of his depression.
Is it hard to believe that I thought peri-menopause was a soap opera plot device?
“Is that why my cycles are getting shorter? I thought they got longer and longer until they disappeared.”
“Oh no, they can shorten too.”
What?! Well that was a fine kettle of day old stinky fish.
So to recap: night sweats, shortening cycles (mine is hovering at an annoying 24 day range), breast discomfort, and aching armpits (which is related to the breast discomfort). Oh yes, and there is also the aching legs that aren’t quite like the restless legs I had when pregnant but bad enough.
“And does this mean I am close to menopause.”
“No of course not. Peri-menopause can occur up to ten years before your periods actually stop.”
Ten years? I was actually lamenting my lack of Y chromosome at that point and I have only very rarely lamented being born a girl. I can think of only two times. When I was eight and learned I couldn’t play short stop for the Pittsburgh Pirates and when my mother handed me the pamphlet on menstruation to read.
It always comes back to the uterus, doesn’t it?
This was an original 50 Something Moms piece.